Rioja, Rueda & Marqués de Riscal
Synonymous with great wines, Spain’s Rioja region is home to some of the world’s most illustrious wineries. Of those, Marqués de Riscal (Bodega de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal, to be precise) remains the oldest – and at the same time, most modern – houses in the region. Founded in Elciego (Álava) in 1858 by Guillermo Hurtado de Amézaga, it is situated in the Rioja Alavesa sub-region, an area known for producing wines with great aging potential.
As a winery, Marqués de Riscal is rather unique among its neighbours. Central to it is “The City of Wine,” a compound that includes the whimsical, Frank Gehry-designed Marqués de Riscal Hotel, designed by Frank Gehry, a pair of restaurants, a wine therapy spa, and it’s the “Botellería Histórica” (“The Cathedral”) that houses bottles from every vintage since the first harvest in 1862.
Today, Marqués de Riscal continues to blaze new trails in the Spanish wine industry. With a firm commitment to quality (it hasn’t included a tier below the “Reserva” level, which is pretty impressive), the winery follows 100 percent organic production practices, and it has become one of the pioneer white wine producers in Rueda region.
The wines of Marqués de Riscal enjoy significant international distribution. Here are two recommendations that you’ll likely find in almost any market:
Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2015
Thanks to the decision not to bottle any Rioja below the “Reserva” category, Marqués de Riscal is able to deliver a maturing, ready-to-drink red wine. Look for chocolate/cherry on the nose, with nuances of mocha, vanilla, wet slate and dried herbs. Silky and round on the palate, its mid-weight profile features suggestions of black cherry, mocha, coffee and mineral.
Marqués de Riscal Rueda 2019
Made from the indigenous (and perhaps under-appreciated) Verdejo grape variety, you’d be forgiven if you guessed it as being Sauvignon Blanc, with its zesty lemon/grapefruit nose, tropical fruit undertones, and suggestions of almond and anise. Super crisp and lively, though beautifully balanced, with bright citrus/herbal flavours. The perfect summer aperitif and a great match for any lighter dishes.